Film and Theatre Activist, Brandi Webb, Promotes Change Through The Arts
In today’s society the quickest way to advocate for change is through media and the arts. People are more visual than ever and have short attention spans, so to be able to capture and inspire their minds through our television screens and mobile platforms is where it is at. This is how Clark Atlanta University alumni Brandi Webb is reaching the masses.
Webb is a writer, producer and director of both film and theatre. She was born and raised in New York City and she has been in her craft for over 10 years.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing this rising activist where chatted on her inspirations behind what she does and her current and upcoming projects. Check out the interview below:
Growing up and still to this day who inspires you? How did they impact your life?
My mother, my grandmother, aunts and a host of cousins have always kept me motivated. My Grandmother was a teacher and my mother and aunts worked 9 to 5 Jobs. They made a better way of life for me and my cousins. Whereas most families of traditional working backgrounds may not be supportive of the arts, mine was.
At age 8, I wanted to be an actress so my mother took me to audition for plays. My family came to every show I performed in. I was always encouraged by them. Their belief in me was enough inspiration for me to feel confident in moving forth with a career in the arts. Today, I am inspired by directors that use their art to tell important historical stories like Ava Duvernay and that shed light to issues people of color face here in the U.S like Spike Lee.
At what age did you get the inspiration and passion to become an activist?
I’ve always spoke up for myself and others when I felt something wasn’t right. Up until recently, I never felt comfortable taking on the title, Activist. I was just a person that cared about the world and wanted to fight for the underdog. Through my journey and filming my current documentary, I’ve discovered what it is that makes me an activist and I feel more comfortable taking on the title.
How did you know a career in film was the best way to convey your activism to the world?
I didn’t. I just liked to write and tell interesting stories that had moral lessons in which the characters evolve. I liked to see the underdog shine through its flaws and obstacles and become better; evolve.
When did you start your career in film making? What was your first film and the position you held on the staff?
In 2007, I co-produced a show called The Brandi Show. It was about a girl that gave really bad advice, but it was funny. You’d see how people’s lives turned out after following her advice. I filmed it as a pilot and episode, but broke it up into small skits for YouTube. After that, in 2013, I dived in head first producing my first feature film, Sincere’s Heart. I was the writer, director, producer and actress. I always went big first for some reason; I think I like to torture myself, lol. Most people start off working on a crew or doing short films first, but I didn’t. I guess I should also mention I had years of experience producing theater, by then. I produced my first play, off Broadway, in 2005.
Your latest project is Betrayal of a Nation, can you tell us a little about the film?
BON is a film project that aims to hold America accountable for its crimes against its citizens of color. It puts the government on trial for things like slavery, the execution of Black civil rights leaders, the destruction of Black Wall Street, police brutality and corruption, etc. It teaches in the form of a trial and explores what a resolution might look like.
What inspired your great creativity to make a movie/documentary hybrid putting America on trial?
The documentary/movie hybrid came from an idea I had years ago for another film that was never produced. I’m a movie person; I like narratives, but sometimes the best way to tell a story is to hear from the people affected directly. I figured mixing the two elements can get people that aren’t in to documentaries, like young people, more interested in my story and better serve to drive home the message I want to come across in the story.
For BON, my co-writer and I bounced ideas off of each other while creating the outline and we agreed the hybrid component would make this project all the more exciting and special. We wanted people to understand who to hold accountable, so they could figure out what they can do about it. We thought incorporating a trial into a documentary would be a clever way of showing how the government is responsible for the overall oppression of Black People in America.
You’re raising money for the completion of the film, how much do you still need?
We are fundraising for $15,000 to complete the film. Currently, we have raised $5k and have $10k more to go. This money will help us to obtain music, video, and image rights, have the editing completed, secure the remaining interviews we have left, rent equipment to film these interviews and afford any PR services that may be needed to help promote the film. (Click here to donate to the film).
What new upcoming events and projects can we look forward to seeing you in or at?
I produced a short film recently called, Don’t Kill My Babies. It won Best Comedy at the People’s Film Festival in Harlem this year and is currently being submitted to other festivals. Other than that, I’m solely focused on getting BON completed.
What great words of wisdom and advice can you share with us fellow millennials?
Don’t wait for someone to give you their blessing or a pass to do something you desire to do, just do it. You don’t need anybody’s permission; you don’t need their validation. You have to believe in yourself and in your own vision, because of you listen to people, they will have you thinking “this isn’t possible,” “no one will be receptive,” or “you can’t do this.”